Piracy is widespread throughout the land that is the Internet.

Torrent client software paired with torrent-sharing sites give Internet users access to a vast array of movies, music, and TV series – which can be illegally downloaded for free.

Debate about the ease of piracy versus the high price of obtaining good-quality media content through legal channels has been ongoing for many years, with proponents for both sides arguing the pros and cons of each method.

We decided to remove the arguments and possible legal ramifications from the equation, and look at the various media-obtaining methods from a financial and time perspective.

Using a full-HD feature-length movie as our piece of media, we investigated the price of pirating a movie using various broadband connections and how long it would take, versus getting the movie through DStv BoxOffice, iTunes, and buying a Blu-Ray.

Before we get started, we must state that MyBroadband does not support piracy, and the methods detailed in this article are mostly illegal.


Good-quality full HD, newly-released movies come in at around 2GB on torrent sites.

Step one is to look at how much its costs to download a “free” movie from one of these sites, and how long it takes.

Buying a Blu-Ray

If you want to own a physical copy of a full-HD movie, you can buy a Blu-Ray. The transaction is more costly and takes longer than piracy.

Takealot offers new-release Blu-Ray movies for around R170 – including shipping – which normally take between 1 – 3 days to be delivered.

Using iTunes

iTunes in South Africa allows you to rent or buy movies from its catalogue of latest releases.

HD movies comes in at around the 4GB mark, and cost R45 to rent or R170 to buy. Bear in mind that you still have to download the digital copy of the movie, which on a 10Mbps ADSL line will take you 53m 20s, and will cost R56.

The total cost then comes in at R226 to own the movie.

DStv BoxOffice

DStv’s BoxOffice allows subscribers and non-subscribers to rent movies online or through their PVR decoders.

A non-subscriber renting a movie online will follow a similar process to renting a movie through iTunes, while a subscriber using BoxOffice on their decoder does not have to pay for streaming costs.

If you have a Premium package with PVR access (R779 per month), you can hire a movie for R30 and watch it right away.

The infographic below shows the cost and time to obtain a movie through the methods mentioned above.